October 28, 2011
One of the few things we remember about the school holidays back in the day were suffering through Timmy Mallett’s unique brand of humour on Wacaday and, more enjoyable, a seemingly endless series of repeated Tintin episodes. The rather youthful reporter would end up in all manner of scrapes and adventures with his faithful hound Snowy and his rather bumbling sidekick Captain Haddock. The fact that Hollywood seems to have sunk its claws into our wonderous nostalgia is tantamount to sacrilege, but at least signs are positive that the film may well be decent. Whether or not The Adventures of Tintin, the game of the film, of the TV show, of the comics is any good is another matter altogether though.
The problem with The Adventures of Tintin is primarily one of repetition, with what seems like a few clever gimmicks in the first instance being played out over and over again until they have long outstayed their welcome. The plot sees our intrepid reporter stumble across a mysterious replica of a fabled ship, lost at sea, which attracts the attentions of some shady treasure hunters. Drawn into unravelling the mystery, he meets up with Captain Haddock and together they take some names and solve some clues.
The problem is that most of the game is made up of deceptively 3D-looking 2D sections, which play out rather like the original Prince of Persia. This is all well and good, as you nimbly leap around platforms, ladders and trapdoors, and can even be fun at first, but the joy is short lived when you realise that you’ve seen pretty much the same few ideas played out over each and every level. Plus, it has to be said that the reflexes, agility and strength of Tintin do border on being obscenely high on the ninja scale. In fact the only novelty later on comes from using a parrot to float around levels, before stopping to wonder how it can support the weight of a grown adult. If all parrots were that buff then they would have likely taken over the world by now.
Combat is equally lightweight, as most enemies can be knocked unconscious in one or two blows. You can be a touch more inventive too, and drag them off ledges, drop pots on their heads or use the scenery itself to dispatch them, but as with the platforming it just boils down to a few different foes being seen off in a few different ways. The combat plays out like an even more toned down version of the A-Team, with people surviving massive drops, gunshot wounds and sword blows with only a mild case of being stunned. It’s a shame that things seem so lightweight as there is fun to be had here, but you can never shake the feeling that you are playing a game that has been quickly thrown together and has just enough window dressing to distract you from the paucity of the main course.
Aside from that you can expect to have a few sword fighting forays following the events of Captain Haddock’s ancestor, as well as jumping on a motorcycle to traverse the desert and hopping in a plane to zip through the skies. These sections are a decent diversion, though the ridiculous situation of bringing down a chopper with a catapult and completing entire levels by waggling the right stick furiously to swing a sword should not be overlooked.
Despite the fact the game has thirty-two chapters - which may sound like a lot - it can actually be completed in less than four hours. That includes taking time to explore the few areas that aren’t totally linear, and means the game never outstays its welcome. Unfortunately other than the ability to play some alternate levels - in co-op to boot - which help drag things out a little, as well as taking part in challenge modes that are made up of certain areas of the main game, you'll find little else to keep you occupied. Unlocking new outfits and characters is hardly fun when there is no real reason to bother other then personal pride.
Despite the relative brevity of the game, you will only snag a fraction of the points on offer by completing the single-player aspect of the title. To get everything done and dusted then you will be expected to complete all of the challenges to the highest standard, as well as completing all of the co-op mode levels and unlocking the various outfits and characters that go along with it. Doing everything will probably knock your time investment up above ten to fifteen hours, but expect it to involve a fair bit of similarity and familiarity.
The Adventures of Tintin has decent presentation, a few fun ideas and can help while away a few hours, but that simply isn’t enough to recommend it over a wide variety of higher quality offerings. The game plays out via the same few sections over and over until you eventually get to the conclusion, and the opportunity to do more of the same in the limited co-op and challenge sections is hardly appealing either. Rent it for a few hours, be disappointed and mildly entertained in equal measure and then never think of it again. C’est la vie.
Decent voice work, though Tintin is a bit whiny and Captain Haddock’s voice seems like a bad impression of Billy Connolly.
Decent graphics and character models during the platforming and flight sections in particular, though the sword fighting sections are roughly animated and the bike levels feel bland and unadventurous.
Fun to start with, but then sorely lacking in ideas and innovation as it progresses. Thankfully the game ends before you can get truly tired of events but that is hardly a selling point.
A generic platform/action game is hardly fitting for one of the world's most celebrated amateur sleuths, and the few extra modes feel tacked on and so similar to the main game that they hardly feel worth the effort.
A list that requires more time on the extra modes than the main game is unusual, but it is not an idea that will hopefully catch on as the challenge and co-op modes feel dragged out and insipid.
Hardcore fans may enjoy The Adventures of Tintin while it lasts but unfortunately that will not be very long, and the time never feels overly well spent either. The main game is shockingly short but at least that will free you up to go and play something with a little more depth and entertainment.